April 2019: Manchester, Bridgewater Hall, 
Hallé Orchestra (Ltg.: Jonathon Heyward)
Charles Hallé/C.M.Wagner: Souvenir & Scherzo

„Beethoven’s ‘Overture: Leonora No.3’ was an epic symphonic poem, a form that the great composer discovered while struggling to write Leonore, an opera (in fact never completed) that was the prototype for Fidelio. To answer the obvious question, Yes there was a version one and two. This third was the final revision before Beethoven abandoned Leonore for good. Or realised that the overture was OK, complete in itself, and did not need to be developed into a full blown opera. He was not wrong. It is dramatic and stirring and altogether splendid.

Heejae Kim played piano for the ‘Piano Concerto No.17 in G’, a masterpiece (yes, another one) by Mozart. It was apparently first played at a private gathering in Dobling, near Vienna. The Concerto has a delicate, filigree construction – though that hardly does justice to it as a description. Prodigious variegated content.

After the interval, having enjoyed a tub of double ginger ice cream, we heard Halle’s ‘Souvenir and Scherzo’ in an arrangement for orchestra by Christoph Maria Wagner, a contemporary composer and conductor, still living (born in 1966). It was no mean work: soaring and energetic and exhilarating.

Sibelius’s ‘Symphony No.5’ brought the concerto to a stirring close. The Allegro motto finale was glorious and spectacular, as ever. Famously, Sibelius was inspired to write this Swan Hymn, as it has been called, by seeing (and hearing) loads of swans (what is the plural noun for swans? It is bank: ‘a bank of swans’): their presence, their call. Their flight away and seeming disappearance. It is like Keats with the nightingale, all over again.“